Sunday, June 26, 2016

On your next vacation shoot it wide

Posted By on Sun, Jun 26, 2016 at 9:34 AM

click to enlarge Cathy enjoys ice cream with the kids in Silverton. A wide lens allows you the room to make group shots on a bustling street. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Cathy enjoys ice cream with the kids in Silverton. A wide lens allows you the room to make group shots on a bustling street.
Vacations are a great excuse for practicing your photography. I love to travel with my family, but it can be hard bringing all of my camera equipment along. If we’re pressed for luggage space — like we were on our recent camping trip — I will bring just one lens, my wide lens.

I love to use the wide lens — typically wider than 35mm — more than any other on vacation. My go-to is a Canon 17-40mm F/4 ultra wide angle.

The reason I like shooting with this lens while on vacation is that I can easily capture a sense of place.

Moreover, I can create really interesting compositions with a wide lens — placing people and objects somewhere within the frame that draws your attention and leads you through the picture.

Last weekend, we went camping on Colorado’s Western Slope and took a drive from Ouray to Silverton. We stopped and visited the Box Canyon Waterfall in Ouray and saw the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depart from Silverton.

click to enlarge Tourists talk with an engineer on a Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad steam engine departing from Silverton. Shooting with a wide lens from far away allows me to frame the engine within the landscape; in this case a high altitude mining town with deep blue skies. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Tourists talk with an engineer on a Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad steam engine departing from Silverton. Shooting with a wide lens from far away allows me to frame the engine within the landscape; in this case a high altitude mining town with deep blue skies.

I’ve selected photographs from our trip to illustrate how shooting with a wide lens works. Do you notice the objects in each image that attract your attention?

click to enlarge An orange door leads to an old mine along Highway 550 outside of Ouray, Colorado. Photographing with a wide lens allowed me to put the door in context with the rock face looming above it. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • An orange door leads to an old mine along Highway 550 outside of Ouray, Colorado. Photographing with a wide lens allowed me to put the door in context with the rock face looming above it.

click to enlarge A portrait of Cory, a steam engine engineer for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, as he waits for passengers to get on the train in Silverton, Colorado. Making portraits with a wide lens allows me to provide more context and to tell a story with a single picture. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A portrait of Cory, a steam engine engineer for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, as he waits for passengers to get on the train in Silverton, Colorado. Making portraits with a wide lens allows me to provide more context and to tell a story with a single picture.
click to enlarge A family portrait of my wife Cathy with daughter Abby, 11,  and sons Harper, 8, and Jacob, 6, on the floor of the Box Canyon Waterfall in Ouray, Colorado. Photographing them with a wide lens allowed me to add a sense of scale to the picture. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A family portrait of my wife Cathy with daughter Abby, 11, and sons Harper, 8, and Jacob, 6, on the floor of the Box Canyon Waterfall in Ouray, Colorado. Photographing them with a wide lens allowed me to add a sense of scale to the picture.

You can also use the "Rule of Thirds" to great effect with a wide angle lens. See my earlier column on this compositional rule of thumb

click to enlarge My sons Harper, 8, and Jacob, 6, stand on the staircase descending to the floor of the Box Canyon Waterfall in Ouray, Colorado. The staircase was almost as interesting as the waterfall and light bouncing off the walls of the canyon combined with the mist from the waterfall made for an interesting photograph. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • My sons Harper, 8, and Jacob, 6, stand on the staircase descending to the floor of the Box Canyon Waterfall in Ouray, Colorado. The staircase was almost as interesting as the waterfall and light bouncing off the walls of the canyon combined with the mist from the waterfall made for an interesting photograph.

click to enlarge An American black swift nest with an egg in it sits precariously on a cliffs edge at the Box Canyon Waterfall in Ouray, Colorado. I used my wide lens and composed the picture using the rule of thirds. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • An American black swift nest with an egg in it sits precariously on a cliffs edge at the Box Canyon Waterfall in Ouray, Colorado. I used my wide lens and composed the picture using the rule of thirds.

click to enlarge Abby holds Jacob's hand as they walk over the trellis leading from the Box Canyon Waterfall in Ouray, Colorado. The photograph conveys a sweet moment and a sense of place all in one. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Abby holds Jacob's hand as they walk over the trellis leading from the Box Canyon Waterfall in Ouray, Colorado. The photograph conveys a sweet moment and a sense of place all in one.

By shooting your vacation pictures with a wide lens and using careful composition, you can really show off the locations that you visited, and print and display your images much larger. They become works of art, rising above the typical vacation photo.

Hope this tip helps you photograph your next vacation! 

Colorado Springs-based wedding photographer Sean Cayton loves remarkable photographs and the stories behind them. See his wedding work at caytonphotography.com, his personal work at seancayton.com and his editorial work in the pages of the Independent. Submit your photo and the story behind the image — no more than two a week, please — to sean@caytonphotography.com for consideration in upcoming blogs.

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